Paso Robles News|Tuesday, October 17, 2017
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Winifred Pifer gets a Buddy Bench 

The Buddy Bench at Winifred Pifer will be located among three trees, near the playground.

The Buddy Bench at Winifred Pifer will be located among three trees, near the playground.

Family remembers Ferne Leslie with donation

Winifred Pifer Elementary School in Paso Robles now has a Buddy Bench. The purpose of the bench is to eliminate loneliness and foster friendship on the playground. The bench, which will be located among three trees near the playground, was donated by Lynda Holt and Lee Leslie, who donated it in memory of their mother, Ferne Leslie, who died in June 2014.

“My younger son was bullied a lot,” Holt said. “The school helped him overcome it. He’s now an anti-bullying advocate.” Holt said Ferne helped raise both of her sons, Harley and Cameron Holt, and volunteered at Winifred Pifer Elementary.

“Our hope is that every elementary school in Paso Robles installs a Buddy Bench,” Holt said.

The family purchased the bench through Christian’s Buddy Bench after Holt heard about it from her niece, Emma. Holt then spent some time doing research online. Christian’s Buddy Benches was started by an idea of a first grader, Christian, in 2013. Christian saw picture of a special bench on the playground when his family was looking at school in Germany, because they thought they might move there. According to Christian’s Buddy Benches website, he asked about it and liked what he heard. He thought it would be a really great thing to have on the playground at his current school, Roundtown Elementary. He knew that there were some kids who felt lonely at recess and he thought this would put an end to that. He told his teacher and his principal about it and they thought it was a great idea. Since it was the end of the school year, the principal said he would look into it over the summer and they would get it in place in the fall. Christian’s family did not move in the end and his principal did get a bench for the school.

A dedication ceremony for the bench will be held on Monday, March 16 at 2 p.m. At the ceremony, Ferne’s granddaughter, Emma Leslie, and grandson, Cameron Holt, will perform with John Beccia, who was their Winifred Pifer kindergarten teacher, and students from the school.

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